Hermann Max Pechstein

Hermann Max Pechstein

pseudonym: -

birth data

date of birth: 1881

place of birth: Zwickau

death data

date of death: 1955

death: Berlin


Hermann Max Pechstein was born on 31 December 1881 in Zwickau. He was the only principal artist of the Brücke (The Bridge) group to have had a formal academic art training. His talent was recognised and encouraged at an early age. When he was 15 Pechstein began an apprenticeship as a decorative painter in Zwickau; in 1900-02 he visited the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) in Dresden and then the Academy of Fine Arts there. In 1906, at the 3rd German Exhibition of Applied Arts in Dresden, Pechstein met Erich Heckel who encouraged him to join the Brücke group of artists. In 1907 and 1908 Pechstein travelled to Italy and to Paris, the metropolis of the modern art movements of the time. While there, he came into contact the the Fauves whose aim - like that of the Brücke artists - was to transcend Impressionism. From 1908, Pechstein lived in Berlin and initially exhibited his works together with the Berlin Secession. He spent the summers together with the other Brücke artists in Dangast, on the lakes in Moritzburg or in Nida on the Curonian Spit. In spring 1910, after his work was not accepted for the Berlin Secession exhibition, Pechstein founded the New Secession with other artists who had also been rejected and served as its president. His continued participation as an individual artist at its exhibitions ultimately led to his exclusion from the Brücke in 1912. In 1913/14 Pechstein undertook a trip to Palau in the South Seas and, only later, did he process the impressions he gained in his art. His experience of World War I is reflected in his travel pictures and lithographs as well as in etchings, such as the Somme series (1916/17). Together with Georg Tappert, Pechstein was the co-founder of the November Group and the Workers Council for Art. In 1923 the artist was accepted as a member of the Prussian Academy of Arts and was appointed professor. Ten years later, in 1933, he was dismissed from his office and banned from exhibiting his works, followed in 1937 from being excluded from the Academy. In July that same year Pechstein was defamed as a degenerate artist. 16 of his pictures were shown in the Degenerate Art exhibition; 326 works were confiscated from German museums. He withdrew to Leba in Pomerania until 1945 and lived from the sale of his works abroad. After serving in the Volkssturm militia and the Reich Labour Service, Pechstein and his wife were briefly held as prisoners of war until allowed to return to Berlin in 1945 where his studio had since been destroyed. That same year he was called back to teach at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste in Berlin. In addition to his paintings, Pechsteins ouvre of graphic works included more than 850 woodcuts, lithographs and etchings that was, however, greatly decimated during the war. Hermann Max Pechstein died on 29 June 1955 in West Berlin.